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Hot Property

Hot Property: A Modern Remodel in University Park

We chatted with architect Samuel Mortimer about how he converted the 1940s-era duplex into a bright and airy single-family home.
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While a complete overhaul to the original design, the front façade is simpler than their original plan, Mortimer says. Shoot2Sell

Hot Property: A Modern Remodel in University Park

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Back in 2015, 3442 Binkley Ave. was the perfect house for one of one of realtor Carmen DiPenti’s clients. They wanted University Park. (Check.) They wanted a fixer-upper they could make modern, and this traditional 1946 duplex fit the bill. (Another check.)

They bought the home, and DiPenti gave architect Samuel Mortimer from Planning Agency a call. Once Mortimer agreed to the renovation, they “started creating the dream of what we can do,” DiPenti says.  

The property needed a ton of work, Mortimer says. The backyard was on the smaller side, and the interior layout wasn’t livable. Because it was a duplex, the building had been “split top and bottom and [had] been chopped up several times on top of that.” They needed to unify it as a single-family home, and the owners wanted to add square footage. 

The first thing Mortimer and the owners did was decide on a budget and figure out which walls were loadbearing. They had three different plans with “varying degrees of aggressiveness,” Mortimer says, of reusing the existing floorplan versus taking the house down to the studs. They opted for somewhere in the middle. 

They moved the garage vehicular access to the alley, which freed up space in the backyard. “You don’t really get a whole lot of yard space,” in area duplexes, DiPenti says. Having turfed entertainment areas, plus a pool, was important to create in the back. It “makes the house truly functional.”

To add more square footage to the main house, they added on to the back of the home, building out spaces like a breakfast nook and mudroom. They expanded the living room. Additionally, they filled in some exterior porches to create a new office and primary bath. 

Despite all the changes, Mortimer says they kept many organizing elements, like the fireplaces and the stairs, and some of the walls. The clients wanted open floor plan with defined spaces, DiPenti says. 

So, Mortimer put up strategic shelving and built-in elements, like the breakfast and dining tables. The resulting downstairs layout has spaces that are “open enough to feel like you’re not cloistered in,” he says. “But they also don’t feel like you’re just in a 1500-square-foot open floorplan.” 

Construction on the property began at the end of 2015 and was completed in 2017. Mortimer says he’s proud of how everything turned out. “I think the spaces are all just really nice on the interior.” 

Scroll through the gallery to learn more about the home. 


Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt

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Catherine Wendlandt is the online associate editor for D Magazine’s Living and Home and Garden blogs, where she covers all…

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